Western Australia has introduced strict new coronavirus vaccination requirements for all healthcare workers and support staff, while Tasmania is making vaccines mandatory for all public and private healthcare workers.
WA’s tough new rules will be rolled out in stages and will trickle down to staff including cleaners, maintenance workers and security guards.
From October 1, all WA staff must have had a first dose to access “tier one” facilities including intensive care units, respiratory wards, emergency departments and vaccination clinics.
They must be fully vaccinated by November 1.
At tier two facilities including public and private hospitals, all healthcare workers must receive one dose by November and be fully vaccinated by December.
Hospital support workers will follow the same process a month later.
By January, all WA healthcare workers and support staff will need to be fully vaccinated to access any designated public health service facilities, including the Department of Health headquarters.
“We want to see the vaccination rate go as high as we can in Western Australia and this is the way forward,” WA health minister Roger Cook told reporters on Thursday.
“While sanctions are built into the directions for health workers who refuse to get vaccinated, I am sure the overwhelming majority of the health workforce will want to do the right thing and ensure that they are vaccinated.”
About 68 per cent of the total West Australian health workforce has been fully vaccinated, based on data from state-run clinics which does not include those who may have been jabbed by their GPs.
“If an individual does not wish to be vaccinated, they will need to seek other employment and that is their choice,” Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said.
The shift to mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers has been backed by the Australian Medical Association.
Australian Nursing Federation WA state secretary Mark Olson also supported the move but said anyone who chose not to be jabbed should be allowed to take leave and keep their jobs.
He remained concerned about a potential staff exodus when vaccinations become mandatory for aged care workers later this month.
About a third of West Australian adults are now fully vaccinated.
Cook said there was “good momentum” building in the rollout despite WA continuing to trail other states.
Just under 11 per cent of Indigenous people are fully vaccinated, a figure Cook described as far too low.
He said WA Health had begun rolling out targeted communication to Indigenous communities but insisted the federal government also needed to lift its efforts.
Meanwhile, in Tasmania, from October 31 healthcare staff will be required to have at least one dose or have evidence of a vaccination booking.
The Tasmanian State Government will make a public health directive once the definition of healthcare worker is finalised next week.
“This is a critical step and one that we do not take lightly,” acting premier Jeremy Rockliff said on Friday.
“However, it is paramount to ensure the protection of our health workforce and the protection of vulnerable patients in their care.
“What we have seen and witnessed in NSW is the devastating impact the virus can have in our healthcare sectors and we must act now.”
Quarantine workers will also have to be vaccinated from September 17.
“Healthcare workers, when covid is circulating in the community, are the people more likely to be exposed,” Public Health director Mark Veitch said
Close to 44 per cent of eligible Tasmanians are fully vaccinated, while 60 per cent have had their first dose.
Tasmania, which had 13 virus deaths at the beginning of the pandemic, has recorded just one case this year, a NSW traveller who tested positive while in hotel quarantine.